A Singapore Son, Lost & Found

So… I was just talking about the SINGAPORE READS THAT I FOLLOW ONLINE, ya? Check this out! Hee, no prizes for guessing who contributed an article!

First published on FIVE STARS AND A MOON.

CONVERSATION WITH A SINGAPORE SON, LOST AND FOUND

Patrick is a long-time friend.  Although he has always been interested in photography, it is only of late that he has been snapping photos of Singapore and sharing on Facebook. Some of his photos even made it to the Best National Day photos in a recent competition.

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An entrepreneur in his forties, Patrick is highly adaptable and enterprising. Put him anywhere, he’ll soon be starting a business (or even two!) and be making friends with everyone.  In fact, he has done just that, started successful businesses and made lots of friends both here and aboard.  So now, what is someone, who could live practically everywhere in the world, doing in our little red dot? Ain’t the shores faraway more exciting?

An avid traveler, Patrick has globetrotted to many parts of the world. He has also spent close to a decade in Australia before returning home to Singapore a few years ago.  I have been wondering about his strong show of patriotism through the photos, so I caught up with him and made him spill beans and mashed potatoes about his life down under and why he had come home to the arms of Singapore.

Mag:    How long were you away from Singapore?

Pat:      I was living in Melbourne from 1999 to 2000, and came back to Singapore in 2001. I left for Australia again in 2004, spending about four years each in Perth and then Melbourne.  I returned to Singapore a few years ago, so I’ll say I was away for a good decade or so.

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Mag:     Care to share and compare your experience running businesses and managing people both in Australia and here in Singapore? Were there key differences in terms of worklife and workers in general?

Pat:      Haha, how much time do you have? The list of differences is very long!

Firstly, Australia has a comparatively more matured FRAMEWORK AND SYSTEM to ensure that Australians have the first shot at jobs. It is not easy as there’re quite many hula hoops to jump through before you can hire temporary foreign workers. There’s a system in place to make sure employers exhaust all options in filling the positions locally before looking offshore.

Mag:    Wait, have you heard of the FAIR CONSIDERATION FRAMEWORK (FCF)?  Singapore is also trying to do something about putting Singaporeans first for jobs.

The FCF is part of the Singapore Government’s effort to strengthen the Singapore Core in the workforce. In support of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), firms submitting Employment Pass (EP) applications are required to advertise their job vacancies on the NATIONAL JOBS BANK. The job ads are to run for a minimum of 14 days before employers can submit the EP applications. This is to ensure that Singaporeans have a fair chance to apply for these jobs.

NTUC, the labour movement in Singapore, has been LOBBYING FOR THE JOBS BANK SINCE 2011!  The idea is to ensure there’s transparency, openness and equal employment opportunities, and of course, to place Singaporeans first.

Pat:      Yes, I’ve heard. It’s a good start, but still early days.  Other than ensuring that the Australians get a first shot at jobs, they also have all sorts of anti-discrimination laws in place to protect workers. The whole idea is to ensure equal employment opportunity, regardless of age, disability, race, gender, etc.  They even have specific laws covering stuff like harassment and bullying at the workplace.

What I particularly like about Australia is how businesses and people value experience and vocational training. People there don’t just like to hire younger workers with good academic qualifications. Professionals and PMEs are as respected as skilled technicians, craftsmen, or anyone who is darned good at what they do.

Here in Singapore, there seems to be a preference for younger workers. There’s also an over-emphasis on academic excellence.  We really need to work on embracing diversity in every sense, including respecting all jobs, including PME-types of jobs as well as technical and vocational types of jobs.

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Mag:    Any other differences?

Pat:      Well, there seems to be a lot more work pressure here in Singapore, so much so that work-life balance is almost impossible to achieve. People work much longer hours here in Singapore.

In Australia, rarely do people work late. Shops close early on most days as you know, and they will really pull the shutters on you when it’s time to close. Rarely do you see people working beyond 6ish in offices too. So across the board, most people leave their work on time to spend time with their loved ones, or do stuff that they like. Things like work-life balance and quality of life are very important to the Australians.

Mag:    In Singapore, many of us trade our time for money in order to pursue a certain lifestyle, or to keep up with the Joneses. Don’t the Australians spend money on big ticket items, luxury goods and branded stuff too?

Pat:      Of course, some Australians do. But I’d say it’s just one segment who pursues the material part of life. The majority still go for quality of life, choosing to spend their time and money on people and things that make them happy. I’m generalising here, but the average man on the street wants to be happy, rather than to be chained to a job to earn money to buy a big townhouse or an expensive car.  Money is not everything and therefore, their jobs is not the only mean to the happy end.

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Mag:    Don’t Australians buy their own homes?

Pat:      Given a chance, who wouldn’t want to own their own homes? I know many Singaporeans like to talk about how we can buy landed properties down under and how cheap they are, blah blah blah. But if we’re looking at buying a property in the city, it is still a very expensive affair. Especially if it’s a house, instead of a flat. The truth is Australia has now become one of the most expensive property markets in the world. THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN DREAM OF HOME OWNERSHIP is fast becoming a nightmare.

Home ownership has dipped over the past twenty years. The number of first-time homeowners has also dropped. All these are signs that affordability is a huge problem.  So, even if everyone has the Great Australian Dream, more and more people have come to accept RENTAL AS A WAY OF LIFE.

Anyway, what I really want to say is that through my interactions with both Australians and Singaporeans, my take is that most Australians seem to be happier with where they are now, and they’re a lot more relaxed about things. Their lives don’t just focus on their work or their personal achievements. They spend time exploring other interests, they discuss life issues and have less of talk-shop when they meet up. Overall, less uptight. I guess they live life, instead of having life lead them through hoola hoops.

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Mag:    Why, then, did you come back?

Pat:      Singapore’s not all bad, you know. I am, after all, a Singaporean and home is where the heart is. My family is here, and most of whom and what I’ve grown up with are all here. So at the end of the day, this is still home for me.

Things that many Singaporeans take for granted, like safety on the streets, the cleanliness, the many many types of yummylicious food to suit all sorts of budget, the fact that shops operate till late every single day, the transport system… these are pretty fabulous here, you know.

And while I’m at it, Happy 49th Birthday, Singapore!

You can check out more of Patrick’s photos MY SINGAPORE, MY HOME and SIX SEASONS OF SINGAPORE.

For now, I’ll leave you with more of Pat’s photos from his gallivanting around the world. Cheers!

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(My) Top Singapore Reads

So, Singapore has one of the highest Internet and mobile penetration. Our use of social media platforms is very high too.

With such explosively exponential growth of the online world, it’s no wonder that our consumption of online contents is high too. It’s like everyone’s a content creator, and everyone is a publisher. Guess everyone is eager to share their opinions. Yea, me included! Else why on earth would I start a blog, right?

I was just having a conversation with someone earlier this week, and I was saying to him, “Everyone’s so busy publishing and posting these days, I wonder who is doing the reading…”

Seriously, every Tom, Dick and Harry is publishing or posting something every second of the day, and we can easily access contents from overseas too, so there’s really a lot to sieve through, a lot to read. To have someone do some form of curating would be fab. Then again, no two people are exactly the same, so who’s to say someone will pick out what I might be interested to read, right? So does this mean we have to read through tons and tons of mediocre contents just to find some gem of a read?

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At this point, I’ve no idea what the future holds. Perhaps the ‘consolidation’ and shake-up will happen soon. Or perhaps some forms of moderation will evolve. Or perhaps we will continue to ‘rubbish write, rubbish read’.

Personally, I don’t read many lifestyle or fashion/beauty blogs coz after a while, they all seem to be all about the same. And truth be told, i think many of these bloggers can’t really write. But I do read quite extensively since I’ve unimaginably varied interests. I like reading stuff from Mashable, Fast Company, HBR and stuff. And of course, I also read BusinessInsider with a pinch of salt, and I follow Elite Daily and Viral Nova on FB. Oh, I also follow lotsa news sites, yup, am referring to mainstream media that has gone digital.

I follow very few local sites and even fewer blogs. I guess I ain’t very interested in the flashy fashiony bloggers and which launch events or parties they’ve attended.

That said, there ARE a few local sites that I follow. Hee, actually the whole purpose of this post is to share with you some of these local sites so that you don’t miss out on ‘the good stuff’!

 

1. MOTHERSHIP.SG

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Mothership.sg is a community news and lifestyle website for Singaporeans. We produce social sharing content for the social media generation.

I really love this site! It’s sorta in between the somewhat stifled and mostly boring mainstream media and on the other end of the spectrum, rubbishy sites like STOMP and hate-inciting sites like TRS.

Mothership keeps things quite real. I like how they don’t shy away from the more controversial issues, and neither do they refrain from writing the ‘mainstreamy’ stuff which may earn them the title of being too straitlaced and stiff-upper-lippy. They would happily publish articles on the RULING PARTY as they would on the OPPOSITION PARTIES, and they would cover respectable personalities like a UNION LEADER as they would on the SOME-THINK-LESS-RESPECTABLE PERSONALITIES.

And mostly, I love Mothership coz I think the peeps behind it LOVE SINGAPORE AS MUCH AS I DO.

2. BERTHA HENSON’s BLOG

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This morning, May 10, my newspapers didn’t arrive at my door step. It’s not even a press holiday and I don’t have my ST, BT, TNP and MYP. Has finally dawned on me that I am officially an ex-journalist and no longer entitled to free newspapers – which I have had for 26 years. But, hey, the company is giving me a 10 per cent discount; helpfully attached to my exit letter. So for the first time ever, I am ACTUALLY going to be a subscriber. And instead of reporting news, I figured it would make quite a change to comment on the reported news instead. Yes? No?

Even if you don’t follow her blog, you oughta go like HER FB PAGE. This ex-ST editor delivers her thoughts on the latest newsy issues in bite sizes and with lotsa punch. It’s almost like someone reads the papers for your every morning, and gives you an idea of what the hot issues are.

And coz of her background, she writes awfully well too, and hopefully, our own command of the English language would improve with each nugget of FB post we digest. Even the name of her blog is cleverly ‘punny’! Bertha Harian is a play on the Malay paper, Berita Harian

Incidentally, she’s just published a book! Hehe, Mothership has penned a piece about her and her book too, go read about THE GOOD TROUBLEMAKER!

3. FIVE STARS AND A MOON

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In the beginning, we wanted to build a simple site to make difficult economic and political concepts easy to understand for the common man. We wanted to help people appreciate the problems faced in the governing of a country.

This is not a site that has an agenda of supporting any political party, nor organisation. By being pro- this or anti- that, is just missing the point.

The only establishment we support is the establishment of journalism and free speech. Free speech also means writing about things you may not like or disagree with. By default, every piece of writing on this site does not represent the collective agreement of the editorial team or the editor.

We want to continue writing about problems, solutions and facts in simple language (too simple perhaps for our main stream media friends to publish). The only boundary that we will not cross, is the boundary of honesty – what we write has to reflect our beliefs of rational thinking, diplomacy and sound policy making.

To be honest, I hesitated a little about sharing this third one. Coz while I really really really like the spirit behind the site, I think it has yet to find its identity.

It’s supposed to be a magazine about Singapore and they seem to want to set out to demystify difficult economic and political concepts, to help people appreciate the problems faced in the governing of a country, and also to share about all things Singapore. So if well executed, it should be something special and precious. I hope the editorial team or whoever runs that space will persevere on and find their own niche in the increasingly crowded online world. I’ll be rooting for it!

Click HERE to read about a Riches-to-Rags CPF story and HERE for the Top 8 Food & Drink Pairings in Singapore!

4. TOMMY WEE’s BLOG | THE LAST ALPHA MALE

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A heroic opinion in 500 words or less. Usually less.

Words cannot describe how much I adore this chap’s writing. It helps that he’s major eye-candy too! My only complaint about him is that he doesn’t post often enough! But you can still have a feel of his witty writing through HIS TWEETS.

And oh, in case anyone’s wondering, he’s taken. Ya, married. Here’s THEIR ‘TERRIBLE’ LOVE STORY, hee! The wifey writes fab too!

That’s all for now, folks!

49 Things I Wanna Share Ahead of NDP2014

Wah, it’s already August! We’re into the eighth month of 2014! And yes, National Day’s drawing really really near! It’s this Saturday!

So here’s my attempt to do a listacle on how to show our love for our little gem of an island!

1. Do dedicate the entire day of 9 August to celebrating National Day!

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2. Have (at least) a drink on Saturday! Go local, uncage the Tiger!

3. Eat cake that day too!

4. While you’re at it, bake something with the Singapore flag on it!

5. Don’t feel like staying home? Then check out one of these RESTAURANTS WITH THE BEST VIEW OF NDP!

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6. Wear a pop of red! (Hey, everything in moderation, alrighty?)

7. Stay away from looney fringe protests! (read THIS and THIS.)

8. Prepare for the big celebration a day ahead by watching the PM’s National Day Message (8 August)! Here’s the BTS btw…

9. Have you put up the Singapore flag at your apartment or house? It’s not too late, go go!

10. Decorate your car with the Singapore flag!

11. Post a birthday wish for our country on Facebook (FB)!

12. Wear bright red lipstick!

13. Get nail art with a Singapore flavour!

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14. Read something uniquely Singapore! Like 15 MOMENTS YOU FEEL PRETTY DAMN SINGAPOREAN, COMMON CONVOS SINGAPOREANS HAVE WHILE ABROAD, and the article that went viral 5 MAJOR FACTS ABOUT SINGAPORE THAT EVERY SINGAPOREAN SHOULD UNDERSTAND.

15. Still on reading, check out what you’ll NEVER hear Singaporeans say! Here’s THE VERSION BY FIVE STARS AND A MOON and MOTHERSHIP’s VERSION

16. Support a Singaporean’s newly published book on how TROUBLEMAKERS CAN BE GOOD FOR SINGAPORE!

17. No Singapore song this year? Hee, the coffee brand OWL to the rescue! Lyrics were crowdsourced from members of the public for a whole month, and then strung together to form this unofficial Singapore NDP song wor!

18. Don’t like it, then check out this folksy remake of everyone’s favourite Singapore song, Home. Even PM Lee shared this on his FB page.

19. Watch NDP! If you’ve tickets, good for you! If you don’t, catch it at home with your family and friends!

20. Don’t feel like staying home? Then check out one of these RESTAURANTS WITH THE BEST VIEW OF NDP!

21. Learn more about what Singaporean men and women want from each other! Here’s 10 THINGS SINGAPOREAN WOMEN WANT MEN TO KNOW, and in answer to that, here’s 10 TRAITS SINGAPOREAN MEN FIND ATTRACTIVE IN WOMEN.

22. Wanna learn how to insult or retort to someone the Singapore way! Read THIS!

23. Go post something on FB or tweet something and hashtag #NDP2014. Let’s make it trend!

24. Stand up and recite the pledge when it’s time!

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25. And oh, sing the national anthem too! Hey, don’t just lip-sync, k?! I’m watching you, hee!

26. Do say a silent prayer for the innocent people who have suffered or are suffering in the Israel-Hamas conflict. I ain’t here to pass judgement on anyone or any state, but I do wanna say violence is not the best way to solve problems and innocent lives should not be put at stake like this. Some people are very upset about how Singapore has not taken any strong stance, but I believe we’ve good reason to stay out of it, except to offer humanitarian support.

Anyway, you can read what our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr Shanmugam, has to say HERE.

27. Still on this topic, did you know there’s a video making its round CALLING SINGAPORE ‘LITTLE ISRAEL’?

Even though we do not have a single soldier in the middle east, let alone fighting on the side of Israel, we are being called names. The way the Islamic scholar and author was going on to incite Muslims in our region to treat Singapore as Little Israel and for them to attack us when Israel wages war against an Islamic country is so so so maddening!

Outrageous too.

I hope for ours and also for peace’s sake that most people are rational. I want to believe that our neighbours are rational people. I love my country and wish it peace, prosperity and happiness.

28. Watch this! I guess we all have a love/hate relationship with Singapore!

29. Try to think of at least 5 things that you love about Singapore!

30. Try NOT to complain about anything on our nation’s birthday! Know what? You might even surprise yourself at how nice your day will end up coz there’s no negative thoughts, hee!

31. Have young children at home? Sit them down and tell them some Singapore stories!

32. National Day is also a fabulous day to put on some red shoelaces and go for a run!

33. Smile at everyone who cross your path on our nation’s birthday, and greet everyone you know too!

34. Be extra nice to the elderly folks too! For we are nothing if without the contribution and hard work of our Pioneer Generation!

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35. Don’t forget to show our appreciation to the cleaners too! They’re generally low wage workers who are working jobs that most people shun, so be nice!

Can’t wait for 1 September when the PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL (PWM) FOR THE CLEANING INDUSTRY TAKES FULL EFFECT! With this, cleaners can be assured of a minimum income of $1,000, and there’ll be opportunities to upgrade.

And oh, hee, troublemaker Bertha Henson also blogged about PWM a couple of days ago. Click HERE to read.

36. Mark down the date of the National Day Rally in your calendar! Alamak, what do you mean you don’t know what that is?! Don’t confuse this with the National Day Message that happens on 8 August hor…

The National Day Rally (国庆群众大会) is an annual thing, whereby our PM addresses the nation. It usually happens on the second Sunday after National Day (9 August), so for this year, the Rally will take place on 17 August (Sun).

The National Day Rally is a tradition since 1966, and the PM typically uses this rally to address the nation on its key challenges and its future directions. For those who are familiar with the US system, this is sort of like the State of the Union Address delivered by the President of the United States.

37. With so much publicity and online buzz going on, surely you must have heard about all the Pioneer Generation perks, ya? Yea, the government is showing its appreciation to the elderly folks and honoring them for their contribution to the country.

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Do familiarize yourself abit with the Pioneer Generation package and help to explain it to your grandparents and parents, ya? Or, hehe, better yet, show them this!

38. Bring out the Singaporean in you! I’d bet my last dollar there’ll be plenty of National Day sales (probably touting $4.90 or $49 deals, no less), so go SHOPPPPPP…!

39. Support local artists and go pick up an album, buy a ticket to a local gig, watch a local production, buy a book by a local author… or just download a song from a local artist!

39. If you follow my blog, you’d have read about LORRAINE TAN’s MY SINGAPORE 2014 CONCERT. Other than celebrating our nation’s birthday, it’s also to raise funds for President’s Challenge. The concert is happening on 12 August (Tue). You can either buy tickets to watch the performance, or you can also sponsor a kid!

The SUPER POPULAR DR. JIAJIA will also be performing at the concert!

Or if you’re feeling lucky, you can go try your luck at winning a pair of concert tickets HERE!

40. Go create a new album on FB and call it My Singapore, My Home! And start snapping pics at nice spots and capturing beautiful moments and share!

41. If you’ve Singaporean friends living overseas, go drop them a message on FB or send them a text message to wish them Happy National Day! Yea, from one Singaporean to another!

42. On the evening of National Day, go to FB and Twitter and look up #NDP2014 and see what fellow Singaporeans are saying!

43. Do yourself a favour and stay away from those negative sites and FB pages. Just for a day, no dissing of your own country and no annoying accounts of how annoying Singaporeans can be. In fact, if you can, just stay away, period.

44. Wanna have a bet with me about whether PM will be wearing red or pink for National Day Message on 8 Aug, and for National Day Rally on 17 Aug? Hee!

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45. One more tidbit on National Day Message! PM will be speaking in English, but did you know there’re also Mandarin, Malay and Tamil versions of the message?

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, will deliver the message in Mandarin; Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, and the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, will deliver the message in Malay; Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Second Minister for Home Affairs and for Trade and Industry will deliver the message in Tamil.

46. MP Alex Yam shared that SENIOR LEE MADE A RARE APPEARANCE IN PARLIAMENT coz it was a special day. But he was reportedly in wheelchair, and had to be assisted when he moved around. Mr Yam had described Mr LKY as frail, but still a giant.

Anyway, I hope to see Mr Lee at NDP, although I really wouldn’t hold my breath for it. I wish him health.

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47. Chanced upon this article and it’s a lovely read from an expat who’s spent some years living in Singapore! Read HERE.

48. Have another slice of cake and another drink on the night of National Day!

49. Oh man, last one, fiiiiinally!! Young NTUC celebrates National Day!

Other than the actual NDP, did you know Young NTUC too organizes its own celebration event at the Promontory? They’ve been doing so for years, and last year (2013), over 9,000 people turned up!! There’s this symbolic candle lighting activity that’s just so cool! Meant to signify the solidarity and mutual support of the Labour Movement, and its role in the building of the nation, it makes a beautiful photo opportunity too!

Young NTUC Celebrates! National Day 2014
Date: 09 Aug 2014, Saturday
Time: 4:00PM – 8:00PM
Venue: The Promontory @ Marina Bay
This is the 8th year, the Labour Movement celebrates Singapore’s birthday with Young NTUC Celebrates! National Day. With vibrant performances, live screening of the National Day Parade as well as a spectacular view of the fireworks, this annual celebration signifies Labour Movement as an integral part of nation building.

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The event also features a candle lighting activity named “A Celebration of Unity” that reinforces the Labour Movement as an inclusive one that stands in solidarity. As a special highlight this year, we will be rallying our members to do a number ’10′ formation as a prelude to our 10th year anniversary in 2015.

If you got tickets, congratsss! If you didn’t, then try next year!

Red Pig… Don’t Lose It!

Annyong everyone! (Hehe, is it just me? I’ve always thought ‘annyong everyone‘ looks a little like ‘annoying everyone‘ and would wear a small smile on my face whenever I type those two words.)

I’ve just passed my one-month mark into my new role. Gotta say I’m still trying to find my way around and I’m most definitely still at an extremely awkward stage with my team. But hey, my spirits remain super high! It’s really a job that I think I can grow to reall really really love, and can do well in. Can’t wait to really start-start.

Funny it’s taking me so long to ease into the team. I’ve always been one to get along famously with people younger than me, yes, even those who are much, much younger. Despite how I look (what with the jet black hair and big eyes), I am really not THAT serious inside, hee! Oh well, I ain’t one to rush these things anyway. So I’d just let time take over and let nature run its own course. I really believe it’s just a matter of time before I become more comfortable in the team and in my job.

I wanna do well and I wanna love what I do! I’ve even told a couple of closer friends that this is as close to my dream job as I can imagine it.

Something a teammate said to me kept ringing in my head. He’d said something to the effect that he really wanna give back to society and all that, but he ain’t so big and grand that he’d go into volunteering full-time. So, he’d said, “This is one job that allows me to earn money AND karma.”

Yup, yup, I want that too! So yea, I’m gonna make this work!

Haha, I was just gonna blog about my fave Korean barbecue restaurant! And had ended up sprouting some 300 words’ worth of ramblings! Once again, consider yourself forewarned that I’m the Queen of (Self-indulgent) Digression!

I’d mentioned in AN EARLIER POST that one of my two fave Korean restaurants in Singapore are Red Pig and Kkokkonara. Coz I ‘checked into’ Red Pig so often on my Foursquare (yea, yea, now replaced by Swarm), I’ve had many people asking me about it. Since I was there on Friday night, I decided to just snap some photos and blog about it some.

Located in one of those two-storey shophouses along Amoy Street, Red Pig is nothing spectacular looking from the outside, save for the signboard with its name in English and Korean and a red pig.

Look into the restaurant, you’ll see that its walls are painted red to live up to its Red Pig name.

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These photos are from level two, but level one looks pretty much the same except for the location of the cashier counters.

I’d started going to Red Pig from some four years ago, in 2010 or thereabouts? Back then, they’d only one level and would be really packed for dinner. They didn’t used to take reservations from 7pm, so I remember having to wait outside for a table. And I also remember many occasions where people were peering in from the outside, watching us eat while they waited for their tables.

Anyway, they started operating from both levels one or two years ago, and they now also take reservations even for after 7pm. If you’ve a big group or prefer not to take the chance of having to wait for a table, I recommend you call and make reservations.

Back when we first started going to Red Pig, there were a lot more Koreans eating there and not so many locals. Perhaps the locals hadn’t gotten wind of what a gem of a find Red Pig was. But later, Red Pig started making the lists of many sites’ Top Korean BBQ Restaurants in Singapore, oh my… the locals started flooding in.

Maybe it’s also due to the fact that all things Korean have become more mainstream than alternative. This is especially so in the areas of Korean entertainment, Korean skincare and Korean food. Korean dramas are like staple items on our TV programme listings. What used to sit on our vanity tables were skincare products from France and Japan, but now, it’ll be difficult to find one woman in Singapore who doesn’t own even one Korean beauty product. Food? Well, I’ve lost count of the new Korean eating places that are popping out EVERYWHERE. One of the ‘strangest’ I’ve seen lately is the opening of a Korean BBQ place at Queensway Shopping Centre, aka the place to buy your sports shoes.

Red Pig has been included in the HUNGRYGOWHERE LIST, the ASPIRANTSG LIST, and the HONEYCOMBERS LIST. And oh, although list is kindda old, Red Pig also made it to LADYIRONCHEF’s LIST.

Here, the menu (and also the logo).

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First things first, let’s get the drinks order out of the way. They serve complimentary iced barley drink, so you don’t really have to order drinks if you don’t feel like it. But hey, what’s a night out to a Korean BBQ place with NO alchohol, ya?

Korean beer goes quite well with BBQ meat. I personally like Korean beer (especially Cass and Hite!) coz they’re light and mighty refreshing, fab for summer and perfect for Singapore!

But if you wanna be more ‘Korean’, or wanna play out scenes from your fave K-dramas, then I guess you just gotta order soju! But be forewarned that it’s really really really potent, k? Alcohol content can range from 16% to 45%, but most soju commercially available here is around 18-20%. So drink slow and don’t yell ‘One shot‘ more often than you can handle! (‘One shot‘ is the Korean equivalent of ‘Bottoms up‘)

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Or, you can also order MAKGEOLLI, a traditional Korean milky rice wine. Some Westerners refer to this as Korean rice beer, same thing. I love this actually, especially with a dash of cider! And it’s packed with Vitamin B and lotsa proteins, and fab for our skin! But I like it more as a second round after BBQ coz I think it doesn’t quite go as well with BBQ meat. The lighter and crispier taste of beer and soju complements BBQ meat better.

However, if it’s your first outing to a Korean restaurant, or if you’d never tried Makgeolli before, then go ahead and try it! At Red Pig, they do it quite the Korean way. If you order the makgeolli, they will shake the bottle really vigorously to ‘wake up the drink’ before pouring it into one of those gold-coloured kettles and serving it to you with gold-coloured bowls. Nice photo opportunity!

Back to Red Pig now…

Once you’re seated, they will bring you the tumbler of barley drink and menu. And soon, plates of banchan (side dishes) will also be served.

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Aiya, I missed out taking pics of the eggroll and radish! Just imagine that they’re there, k?

The corn and eggroll are not refillable, if you want another serving, it will cost you $5 each. But you can ask for refill for the other banchan. I personally like the tofu and the beansprouts (and mind you, this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually eat beansprouts!)

I think one comes to Red Pig for the BBQ, so if you prefer not to have BBQ, then I strongly suggest you go somewhere else. Why? Coz like it or not, you will surely stink of BBQ after the meal, so if you ain’t even gonna order BBQ, there’re other good or even better Korean restaurants elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, the place ain’t chokey-smoky, and the BBQ smell will still cling to your clothes and your hair.

When at Red Pig, you just gotta order their signature Red Pig. It’s their secret recipe of spicy red marinate and oh boy, it really does give you a good kick, hoho!

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ZZANG!! Here’s the before and after photos of Red Pig. If pork’s more your poison than your meat, they also have the chicken version.

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What you saw above are two servings of Red Pig at $20 a pop. Not cheap, like I told you. It costs more than twice as much to eat a Korean meal here than in Korea. But what to do when the craving comes calling? Actually for me, the craving doesn’t even come calling! It sorta comes YELLING sia!

Red Pig is quite unlike most of the BBQ meat you’d find in most other Korean restaurants here. Like I’d said, it’s their own recipe and something that the lady boss is quite proud of. I remember there was once we didn’t order Red Pig and she chided me about it, haha!

It’s quite spicy, but bearably and yummiliciously so. And I’m someone who can’t really take very spicy stuff. If you like the whole works, you can wrap it in the lettuce, complete with the garlic, green pepper and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste).

If you still find it too spicy, you can wrap it into the lettuce together with some rice. That should make the spiciness more tolerable.

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And if it’s really bad, then you can try getting hold of some milk and drink it! The diary in the milk should help calm the volcano exploding in your mouth. Or, take in a pinch of salt. But hehe, I doubt it will come to that lah. Red Pig really ain’t THAT spicy (except for last Friday!! Did the chef forget and add double the dose of chilli or whatttt?!)

Since there’re four of us, we decided to order one serving of the Soy Chicken too. I really quite like this one! So if not everyone in your party digs spicy food, you can also try this!

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One other hugely popular dish at Red Pig is its Seafood Pancake (haemul pajeon). Gotta say the pajeon used to be slightly bigger, crispier and nicer when we first started eating here. But but but, judging from the way other diners have been lapping up every last morsel of the pajeon, I’d reckon it’s still good by most people’s standards.

Hand on heart, I honestly think the pajeon is only a distant cousin of what the original pajeon used to be. Nope, not an once-off thing either. We order this dish practically every time we’re at Red Pig, and it’s been not so nice for the past months. In fact, we even sent it back to the kitchen two visits ago coz it wasn’t nicely browned! Kindda sad, coz this really used to be oh-so-yummy!

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Other than Red Pig, BBQ soy chicken and seafood pancake, you can also try their Spicy Tofu Stew (soondubu chigae) and cold noodles which I think are quite decent too.

For lunch, they have set lunches at around $10. Comes with a main and a bowl of rice, so it’s quite good value. No BBQ during lunch; keke, else everyone will be smelling like barbecued pork in the office!

Hee, here’s a pic of us with our happy bellies last Friday night!

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Are you wondering why the title for this blog post?

Well, my friends and I have found that the food quality at Red Pig hasn’t been consistent over the past months. Not sure if there’s been changes in the kitchen, but the differences have been very noticeable.

Take the side dishes. the tofu and the beansprouts have been tasting different, and it’s bad-different. The sauce used on the tofu is a washed down version of its old form, and the beansprouts tasted bitter over the past (at least) three visits. The pajeon just gets from superb to good to not-bad… Even the Red Pig last Friday was A LOT spicier than usual, although thankfully, still nice.

And a few friends who had recently visited Red Pig also had a less-than-pleasant experience, service-wise. They were told there’s no refill of the banchan unless they ordered another serving of meat. But I thought maybe there’s a miscomm somewhere, or perhaps it’s coz that particular staff’s new. Banchan refill (other than the corn and the eggroll, of course) has never been a problem. I also don’t think it’s coz we’re regular and get better treatment; I do see other tables getting their banchan refills whenever we’re there.

Hopefully, that was just an once-off episode. Sadly, it was enough to put my friends off and they’ve already written off Red Pig off their list. Really kindda sad (at least for me personally), coz I really do like that place! And they’re quite possibly the first amongst my friends who ended up not liking the place.

Me worrrrried! I really really like Red Pig and the sense of familiarity built over the years is really something that cannot be taken away. We’ve celebrated birthdays and other occasions there, brought new-found friends, and cried over soju there. It’ll be sad to see it wither away to just another unremarkable Korean restaurant out to make a Singaporean buck.

I think the manpower crunch has also made things hard for the restaurant. It was so short-handed last Friday night that the two staff manning the upper lever were having such a hard time tending to all the tables. We’re long-time regulars, and we can sorta excuse the lack of attention coz we know they can be really good on their good days. But what of the newer customers? They might just write Red Pig off as one with inconsistent food and inattentive service. That’d be so bad.

Red Pig will be a special place to me for a long time. Too many memories there. The lady boss may not know my name, but she recognizes my face and would call out to me even if she sees me elsewhere. And if we go on weekday evenings, she warns us about not over-drinking since we gotta work the next day. There was once she even made the kitchen prepare steamed egg for us coz we were drinking a bit much, and she thought the egg could help line our stomach.

We’d also been on the receiving end of the lady boss’ occasional generosity. Like when she gave us free beer when we were there for New Year’s eve dinner, and she also generously plonked down plum wine when we were celebrating Germaine’s and YYANN’s birthdays there.

So please, Red Pig, don’t lose it!

RECOMMENDED READS
BLOGGER BEATRICE TAN’s PHOTOS FROM HER RED PIG DINNER
SLOWCHOMP on RED PIG

RED PIG
Hours: Lunch 12nn – 2:30pm Dinner 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Tel: +65 6220 7176
93 Amoy Street, Singapore 069913

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